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Miners' Demonstration at 1Ammanford.

The Ammanford Co-operative…

Outlines of Local Government

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Outlines of Local Government III. THE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE. The Justices of the Peace are the local office can be traced back to 1195, when cer- criminal magistrates. The origin of their tain knights were chosen to receive oaths for the preservation of the peace. These" Con- servators of the Peace were appointed for every county in 1327, and in 1360 became known as Justices of the Peace, having cer- tain criminal jurisdiction assigned to them. Powers to judge at Quarter Sessions were given in 1389, and in 1542 they were autho- rised to hold Petty Sessions. Their adminis- trative powers were mostly transferred to County Councils by an Act passed in 1888. They are appointed by the Crown on the nomination of the Lieutenant in counties to the Lord Chancellor, who sometimes ap-1 points without such a nomination, and is in wise bound to follow the recommendation. In the Counties Palatine, the Chancellor of the Duflty recommends and appoints for the Crown. There have been recently established Local Advisory Committees for the purpose of assisting in these nominations. Certain boroughs possess a separate Commission of the Peace. Qualifications. By the Justices of the Peace Act, 1906, all property qualifications were abolished. There are certain ex-officio Justices, viz.:— ( I) The Mayor of a Borough is a Justice of the Peace for his year of office and for twelve months afterwards. (2) The Chairman of a Rural or Urban District Council is, unless a woman or per- sonally disqualified, ex-officio a Justice of the Peace for the county Powers and Duties. (i.) Judicial. (I) Summary Jurisdiction is the description given to the powers of Justices of the Peace in trying minor criminal offences. The absence of a jury is of the essence of the proceedings. The Court is termed Petty Sessions, and is formed of two or more Jus- tices. The Petty Sessional Courts try and determine a very great number of cases, and their jurisdiction tends steadily towerease. They have power to fine, and also to im- prison, but the whole of their powers are derived from statutes, and they must not ex- ceed the limits there laid down. In the majority of cases they cannot award more than six months' imprpisonment. The matters which come before them include petty assaults and thefts, applications for judicial separa- tion, offences relating to game, offences against order, such as drunkenness and vagrancy, cruelty to children, breaches of bye- laws, and adulteration of food. In some cases which would otherwise have to go to Quarter Sessions or Assizes, the Justices have jurisdiction if the accused consents to be tried by them. One ustice sitting alone has jurisdiction over certain very small offences, such as drunkenness, but he cannot inflict a higher fine than twenty shillings or greater im- prisonment than fourteen days. (2) Procedure to Trial. Besides the deter- mination of minor cases, the Justices, in more serious cases, hold a preliminary enquiry to see if there is sufficient evidence to warrant sending the accused for trial to Quarter Sessions or Assizes. If the examining Justice —for one is sufficient for this purpose—sends the accused for trial,, a written accusation, called a "Bill of Indictment," is drawn up. This is laid before the gran3 jury at the Quarter Sessions ot Assizes, as the case may be. (ii.) Miscellaneous. J. J. Clarke sum- marises the miscellaneous powers of Justices thus:— ( J) Control ef persons and premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquor by retail, billiard playing, and-in places where Part IV. of the Public Health Acts Amend- ment Act, 1890, has been adopted by the Local Authority—music, singing and dancing. (2) Dutbs under Cinematograph Act, 1909, and Explosives Act, 1875, where same have been delegated to the Justices. (3) Registration of clubs in which intoxi- cating liquor is supplied to members or their guests. 1 (4) Duties under the Lunacy Acts, 1890 to 1911, and Mental Deficiency Act, 1913. (5) Duties under Volunteers Act. 1863. Army Act, 1881, and Military Manoeuvres Act, 1831. (6) Appointment of Special Constables under the Special Constables Act, 1831. (7) Appointment of probation officers under the Police Acts. (8) Revising lists of jurors in counties, and in boroughs not having a separate Court of Quarter Sessions or a Borough Civil Court. (9) Allowances of rates and exemptions from payment thereof. (10) Appointment in counties of one-half of the members of the Standing Joint Com- mittee for the control of the County Con- stabulary. (11) Appointment of Visiting Committee of Prisons and Asylums. (12) Appointment of Overseers of the Poor in urban districts (including boroughs) where power to do so has not been obtained by the local Council. In such cases the nomi- nation is made by the Vestry Meeting. A Stipendiary Magistrate may be ap- pointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Home Secretary upon the petition of the borough. He must be a barrister of not less than seven years' standing. IV. THE OVERSEERS OF THE POOR. The Overseers of the Poor were virtually the creators of the great Poor Law scheme of' 1601, and were for two centuries the actual a dministrators of that scheme. By the Statute of 1601 they were to raise in each parish a stock for setting the poor on work," to put poor children out as apprentices, and to fur- nish relief for the impotent poor. But their administrative functions were virtually abolished by the new Poor Law scheme of 1834, and the Overseers themselves reduced to the posi- tion of executive officials obeying the behests of Guardians and other authorities. The duties of the Overseers in respect of poor relief were in 1834 transferred to the Guar- dians, but the former still have power in cases of immediate urgency to order relief to be given. They are appointed yearly in each Parish, as foilows (1) Rural, by Parish Council or Parish Meeting or in case of neglect, by the Board of Guardians. (2) Urban, by:- (a) Justices on nomination, of Vestry; or (b) Borough or Urban District Council. This does not apply within the County of London. Qualifications. Any substantial householder," male or female. Anyone appointed is compelled to serve, unless he belongs to a class specially privileged, such as ministers, doctors, lawyers, &c. There are usually two Overseers for each civil parish, but there may be more, and some small parishes have only one by special enactment. The A ssistant Overseer is the paid officer' who collects the rates laid by the Overseers, and usually does all the work which the latter are nominally respon- sible for. He is appointed (a) In rural parishes by the Parish Council or Parish Meeting; (b) In urban districts by the District Coun- cil, if they have asked for the power to do so. otherwise in an ancient form by the inhabitants in vestry assmbled. Duties of Overseers. (1) Preparation of Poor Rate Valuation List, a list of all the rateable hereditaments in the parish. The Overseers draw up and sign a list of the rateable hereditaments," which, after being open to public inspection for fourteen days at the offices of the Guar- dians of the Poor for the Union, is transmitted to the special committee of the Guardians, known as the Union Assessment Committee. This committee, chosen annually by the Guardians for the express purpose of investi- gating and supervising the valuations made by the Overseers, and consisting of not less than six and not more than twelve members, pro- ceeds to hear any objections which may be made to the amount of the rating of any par- ticular hereditaments or to the omission of any hereditament. Further appeal lies to Special or Quarter Sessions. (2) Making, levying and collecting Poor Rate, which includes other services than Poor Relief:— I. Local Authorities issue precepts on Overseers of the various parishes. 2. Overseers estimate the rate required to produce the amount of the various precepts, together with Overseer' expenses. 3. Rate is then prepared and allowed by two Justices, and levied upon (a) Under Poor Relief Act, 1601-every inhabitant, parson, vicar and other, and every occupier of lands, houses, tithes impropriate. propriations of tithes, coal mines, or saleable underwoods; (b) Under Rating Act, 1874-occupiers of mines of every description not in the 1601 Act, land not subject to rights of common, sporting rights when severed from the occu- pation of land; (c) Occupiers of advertisement hoardings; (d) Agricultural land is assessed at one- half the rateable value. Occupation must be beneficial." 4. Exemptions from Rating. Registered places of worship, lighthouses. Crown pro- perty, &c. 5. RVe is levied upon occupiers (but note exceptions) 6. Appeal lies to Special or Quarter Sessions. (3) Assistance to t' Regi-tr tion Officer in the pèparation of Local Government and rlja .tary register of electors, lists of objections thereto, and attendance at Revision Courts. Preparation of Gri; Common Jury lists under similar conditions to register of electors. (5) Relief of the poor in ca -> of prgent necessity, including certifying pauper lunatics. (6) Keeping prescribed accounts and sub- mission of same to District Auditor of the Local Government Board. (7) Miscellaneous, including supervision of the work of the Assistant Or- .er. Accounts. The Accounts of the C ar" me up half-yearly to 31st Marc., and 30th Septem- ber, end ?-dited by the District Auditor of the Local Government Board.